Class Action Sought In Pot Suit


New Member
A Cedar fire burn victim is seeking class-action status for a lawsuit he filed against county officials, alleging violations of patients' rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act by their refusal to regulate the use of medical marijuana.

Rudy Reyes, who suffered severe burns across his face and body in the 2003 fire, argues that the county has "unconstitutionally denied" the right to improve the quality of life for people who have severe injuries.

Reyes filed suit in September but amended his complaint March 1 to include the constitutional issues and seek class-action status.

Reyes' lawsuit seeks to include as plaintiffs anyone who has a state-issued ID card for medical marijuana and those who have applied for the permit. If he succeeds, the number of plaintiffs likely will be in the thousands, and the lawsuit would pose a much greater financial risk to the county.

The county sued the state last year rather than implement medical-marijuana laws that permit qualified patients to smoke and grow pot. The laws require the county to issue identification cards that would protect patients from prosecution.

San Bernardino and Merced counties joined San Diego in trying to overturn Proposition 215, the 1996 initiative approved by 56 percent of voters that permitted the medical use of marijuana. The county argues that federal law banning marijuana supersedes state law.

A Superior Court judge threw out that case in December. The county has appealed.

County Counsel John Sansone said Reyes' suit is off-base in using the disabilities act, because no one's rights are being violated. Patients with a doctor's permit still can obtain pot without an ID card, Sansone said.

"I don't see that there's any legal basis to their arguments or their allegations at all," Sansone said.

Reyes said he sued the county because officials continue to disobey the state law despite losing in court.

"It's going to cost the county more and more money because they're really not doing their jobs in a time when law enforcement is having cutbacks and a time where there's not enough money for schools," he said. "They filed this lawsuit, basically spending more money to violate and go against California voters."

The lawsuit argues that rights provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act trump federal law making cannabis illegal.

"Therefore, the rights of cannabis patients in San Diego County to use cannabis to alleviate the symptoms of their disabilities and aid their quality of life has been unconstitutionally denied by the county Board of Supervisors and its refusal to provide for cannabis patients," the lawsuit said.

Reyes also accuses the county of harassment and arresting him unlawfully for possession of medical marijuana. The lawsuit cites a Dec. 6, 2005, incident in which the Sheriff's Department aided federal agents in confiscating marijuana plants and growing equipment from his La Mesa home.

Newshawk: CoZmO -
Author: Craig Gustafson
Copyright: Copyright 2007 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.
Website: > The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Top Bottom